Ninety-five percent of the time if you are picking out a pair of sunglasses to wear when going fishing, you’ll pick a pair with polarized lenses. I still remember the “magic” of putting on a pair years ago and suddenly the weeds, sticks and even fish hiding under the surface in the calm bay where I was casting my bait came into clear view. Since then, when I fished and when I was wearing sunglasses, they were polarized.

However,with most of my fishing now taking place on the Great Lakes, the ability for polarized lenses to cut the surface glare is probably the least important facet of the glasses I slap on my face on sunny days. My sunglasses have two “most important” facets.

Facet one is eye comfort. If it’s a bright day with lot’s of sun glare coming off the water when I’m fishing, I put on a pair of sunglasses to cut the amount of light entering into my eyes. The second “most important” reason for wearing sunglasses is safety – both near term and long term.

Wearing glasses with protective lenses when fishing to guard against foreign objects potentially striking the wearer isn’t as important as, say, when sharpening mower blades or running a chainsaw. Still, over the years, I can remember being face-struck by Dipsey Divers as well as hooks, lures and sinkers while fishing. In some cases I was lucky the flying tackle missed my eyes, in others it bounced off the sunglasses I was wearing. That’s near term safety.

Both near term and long term safety comes from the harmful affects of ultra violet radiation on human eyes. Photokeratitis, is the medical term for “sunburned eyes.” A person’s eyes can be burned by just a few hours of high intensity exposure to UV-B rays. It’s frightfully painful – like having sand in your eyes, but the pain will pass. The long term damage won’t pass.

Long term exposure to UV-B and UV-A rays can cause macular degeneration, cataracts and other eye problems. Rays directly from the sun are intense and rays reflected off the water can nearly double the exposure. Luckily, most quality sunglasses will block most UV rays – but they need to be worn to work. That leads me back to my first important facet for wearing sunglasses.

When the sun gets bright as the day transitions from dawn to mid-morning, I put on my sunglasses. On a slightly overcast day, it may be a little later – on a cloudy day, I might not put them on at all. A cloudy day is already dreary, no sensee darkening it any more. Right?

Actually, UV sunrays start assaulting unprotected eyes the minute the sun pops up over the horizon and the bombardment lasts to sundown. The intensity varies but it’s UV is there at some level.

Clouds can help or hurt. Google it if you wish – I did for this review. Clouds can diminish UV radiation up to 90 percent, but in some conditions clouds and haze can boost UV-B as much as 40%.

That’s why, when I learned about Julbo REACTIV lens sunglasses, I obtained a pair. The ones I have are the Renegade model, light, stylish, cool looking with a sort of reddish orange mirror finish. Julbo makes dozens of styles, some specialized to specific outdoor sports, even goggles for skiing or other uses. They also make women’s, men’s and youth and baby sizes and styles. Go to http://www.julbo.com to check them all out.

The REACTIV lenses “react” to transition from light to dark as the level of UV radiation striking the lenses increases. Indoors or in a car with zero UV light, they will only be slightly tinted and block only 17% of the light coming through the lense. Outside, with a full dose of UV hitting the lens, 75% of the light will be blocked.

The cool thing for me is they will stabilize between the extremes. So I can put them on just after sunrise and they will only slightly darken what I see. As the sun climbs, so does the UV and the lenses gradually darken up to the max. In most cases it’s unnoticeable. Walk outside with them on and it only takes about 20 seconds to go from minimum to maximum.

So the Julbos are cool looking, comfortable wearing, block 100 percent of the UV rays and the lenses material actually meets OSHA standards for protective eyewear required for industrial workers. Unlike some types of photochromic lenses, the Reactiv lenses are not temperature sensitive. They aren’t cheap (but there are many designer brands which cost more and do less) and they have a lifetime warranty. All their models and styles are available at their website (free shipping and returns) at some retailers and some models can be found at Amazon.com.


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